As it emerges from its week seven bye, the Glendale Community College football team found plenty of ways to make good use of its downtime, from resting its overworked running backs to cutting down on turnovers and penalties on both sides of the ball.
There is one aspect of the game that Vaqueros Coach John Rome and his staff were particularly fixated on, however, as Glendale (0-6, 0-2 in the Pacific Conference American Division) looks to come out of the bye strong and promptly nip a six-game losing streak in the bud.
"We thought definitely there were some areas we needed to find improvement in and one was throwing the football, which we spent quite a bit of time doing," said Rome, whose team is coming off a 28-20 home conference loss to L.A. Pierce on Oct. 8. "We hope we got a little better."
Starting quarterback Kevin Hunter suffered a lacerated kidney against Allan Hancock on Sept. 24 and has yet to be cleared to return, which has forced backups Darren Orsbern and Anthony Carter into sudden action. The two have combined to attempt just six passes with not a completion between them over the last two games, but with Hunter's status for Saturday's conference home game against West Los Angeles at 7 p.m. at Sartoris Field still very much up in the air, the Vaqueros are preparing with the assumption that Carter will get the start.
"Until Kevin Hunter gets back, we're going to have to come up with creative solutions," Rome said. "[When he returns it] is going to be completely at the discretion of the doctors and what his medical team says.
"Anthony has made very large strides this week so we're going to continue to see how he does when we get back to work on Monday."
While the passing game has gone into hibernation, the Vaqueros' rushing game has been surprisingly effective considering its been essentially unmasked by any nuance in the playbook. Glendale has averaged 265 yards on the ground in its last two contests, which also include an Oct. 1 30-21 road conference loss to L.A. Valley. Joe Wiggan led the way in both games and rushed for 115 yards and a score against Pierce.
While turnovers have continued to be an Achilles heel for Glendale — the fumble that killed a possible game-tying drive in the fourth quarter against Pierce was one of six lost in the game and the team's 13th on the season — the Vaqueros have gotten progressively better at stopping the opposition. After giving up an average of 43 points per game over the first four weeks of the season, the Glendale defense had averaged just 29 points allowed on 571 total yards.
"We feel that we've made some improvement defensively the last two games and I think it's shown," Rome said. "Right now we want to make sure that we continue to grow in that capacity. We've worked on our tackling, we've worked on our basic fundamentals, so we think the defensive staff felt encouraging."
After facing West L.A., the Vaqueros will close out the season with conference games at Santa Barbara City on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m., and at home against Santa Monica City at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 and L.A. Southwest at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12.